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Man arrested in China for sending a meme deemed ‘offensive’ to police

A Chinese man has been detained for nine days after sending a message to a chat group deemed “offensive to police”. The incident spread widely on Chinese social media.

The man, identified only by his family name, allegedly sent the meme on Chinese social media platform WeChat, in a group chat complaining about local prevention and control measures for Covid-19 late last month, according to officials and state-owned media.

China maintains a “zero Covid” policy, which has led to authorities re-imposing blockades and other emergency measures in recent weeks in an effort to contain the spread of the virus.

The Qingtongxia City Police in Ningxia District posted a screenshot of Li’s text message exchange on Chinese social media, but later deleted the post.

The state-run newspaper The Paper published more details about the incident that caused panic in China, with a related hashtag that has reached 170 million views.

Many protested Lee’s punishment, saying that using an online joke would not be grounds for a police arrest.

According to the newspaper, he sent me a meme featuring a dog in a police hat, holding a police badge and pointing at the camera. It’s a common image that has been widely used online before, with various variations, sometimes including a cat or a cartoon character in a police hat.

On Saturday night, local police received information from a member of the public, alleging that Lee had uploaded a photo “insulting the image of the police,” according to the newspaper.

Police have launched an investigation into the chat group, which has more than 330 members, according to the newspaper. After it was discovered that Lee was “dissatisfied with community prevention measures”, the police summoned him to the police station, where he was questioned and ended up “confessing to the illegal fact of insulting the police”.

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Police said his actions constituted the crime of “causing a quarrel and causing trouble,” and gave him nine days of detention as punishment.

The newspaper praised the efforts of local authorities to contain the virus. The article said the police were “at the forefront of epidemic prevention and control efforts to build a safety barrier for people’s lives and health.”

“However, there are some people who are dissatisfied with the measures to prevent the epidemic and even openly insult the police,” the text adds.

“For such illegal acts, the Qingtongxia Police Department has always insisted on the ‘zero tolerance’ policy and resolutely punished according to the law to defend the law enforcement authority and the legal dignity of the police.”

China has some of the most stringent Covid-19 measures in the world, including travel restrictions, immediate locks and mass testing. This contrasts with other countries in Asia, which are learning to live with the virus after implementing mass vaccinations.

These measures, which are very popular within China, have also generated rare signs of public resistance in recent weeks as the number of virus cases has risen.

Two residents were arrested in October for trying to climb the walls of their gated community. On social media, some residents have begun to complain about the cost of prolonged confinement and the damage it has done to local economies.

(Translated text, read the original text in English Here).